As you’ve probably guessed, climbing is my main thang. This is partly because it’s my favorite sport, plain and simple. Yet it’s also partly because a hip injury limited leg-intensive activity for a few years. After finding a couple talented physical therapists this past year, I’m back on my bike.
It. Feels. Amazing.
Climbing doesn’t offer the same heart-pumping, sweat-dripping experience as pedaling trails. Both sports demand presence in the moment and offer time outdoors. But there’s something uniquely challenging—and thus rewarding— with mountain biking. I also love the life-metaphors biking offers: look where you want to go and maintain forward movement.
I got into biking pre-hip injury while on family vacation in Wisconsin. We’ve been going to WI’s northwoods since I was born. While I enjoy time on the lake, casting for bigmouth bass and swimming in the murk, I craved to have a little more action.
Turns out, we were near some of the best trails in America. (Four IMBA Epic trails within a ten-minute drive from our rental.) The trails in northern Wisconsin swoop and roll through wooded hills. They bend around lakes and cross thin bridges crafted by the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association. CAMBA maintains over 300 miles of trails in national forests near the towns of Bayfield, Cable, Seeley, Delta, Drummond, Namakagon, and Hayward.
The trails range from beginner-friendly paths to expert-only terrain parks. They are maintained better than any I’ve ever ridden: tree branches are cut away and the obstacles left on the trails make sense. You can rip on the downhills and feel in control.
When I returned to Montana to bike, I realized the sport could be a LOT harder. The trails here tend to go straight up and straight down. Though this type of riding offers it’s own kind of…fun, I prefer rolling trails, where the ups and downs come in turns.
If you like vacations that involve roller-coaster single tracks, put the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest on your bucket list. Here’s some beta for trails near Cable, Wisconsin.
Top Five Favorite Trails
Patsy Lake: 14.8 Miles, Easy/Intermediate
There’s both a beginner-friendly and an intermediate version via Namakagon. The one we did clocked in at nearly 15 miles, with some technical riding and some flat meadow sections. The lake is a stunner. We couldn’t stay to enjoy the view too long, though, ‘cause skeeters, aka tiny zombies.
Esker: 3.4 Miles, Easy/Intermediate
This is a great warm-up for the longer rides in the area. There’s some steeper climbing sections, rewarded with equally steep downhill.
Namakagon: 15 miles, Intermediate
You can do the full 15 miles or shorter versions with a number of turn-offs. This felt like the smoothest, flowiest trail I enjoyed in the area.
Ojibwe: 10.5 Miles, Intermediate/Difficult
Rocks make this trail a little more technical than the others around it. The forested sections it rolls through were some of the prettiest.
Rock Lake, 12 Miles, Difficult
Technical, varied, and long, this trail kicked my butt! Like the others, lakes and trees make for a beautiful adventure.